PAYSON, UT — A Payson family is suing the Boy Scouts of America after a teen boy who has low-functioning Down syndrome and autism had his badges revoked and his Eagle Scout project disqualified, even after a local chapter approved it.
In November, the state’s National Parks Council signed off on 15-year-old Logan Blythe’s Eagle Scout rank. The boy had been a boy scout for the last three years through his local chapter of the organization. Logan’s father, Chad Blythe, told Yahoo Lifestyle his son struggles at some tasks and the local group helped get him badges anyway for trying.
“For example, if a task is cooking and the instructions are to pour a cup of flour, Logan won’t stop pouring,” Chad Blythe told the news outlet.
Chad Blythe also told KSTU-TV his son has the mental state that is the equivalent of a 4-year-old, so if he asked Logan to complete a task — such as dive to the bottom of a pool to retrieve an item — he would refuse.
Eagle Scout is the highest rank in the organization. Boys have to earn 22 badges and prove they can be leaders by completing tasks such as painting schools, building park benches or repairing fences, Yahoo said. Logan, who had earned more than 20 badges, received permission in November to distribute newborn kits for special needs babies at hospitals.
But the following day, Chad Blythe said he received a text message saying the project had been suspended.
“The national office looked into how Logan had earned his badges and decided that he didn’t really meet the requirements,” Chad Blythe told Yahoo. “The National Parks Council said their hands were tied and they apologized for letting Logan advance so many levels.”
The Utah National Parks Council told KSL-TV in a statement they were “moved” by Logan’s desire to become an Eagle Scout and “worked closely” with him and his family to help him along. But the Eagle Scout award is a national award, group said, and final decisions on the requirements are made at the national level.
“We had all this planned, and 24 hours later we get a text message saying ‘we should have never said you were approved’,” said Chad Blythe told the news outlet.
He said the family was told that for Star Life Eagle Ranks, there were no alternatives — Logan would must complete the requirements as stated, “including leadership responsibilities,” he told KSL-TV.
The Boy Scouts of America told Yahoo in a statement they work with their disabilities awareness committee, which aims to ensure Scouts with disabilities can participate.
“We worked with the committee and the Blythe family to offer Logan a path to earning alternative merit badges based on his abilities, as well as the option to work toward his Eagle rank past the age of 18 by completing the ‘Request for Registration Beyond the Age of Eligibility,'” the statement said. “This specific request is focused on supporting Scouts with permanent and severe disabilities so as to allow them to continue working toward an Eagle rank indefinitely.”
The statement added that children with special needs participate in the program by attending troop meetings and functions. They don’t even have to earn merit badges to participate, the group said.
“For instance, any Scout can go camping and hiking with his troop, have fun through the program and never earn a merit badge. Advancement, which is in part accomplished through the earning of merit badges and can culminate in earning the highest rank of Eagle Scout, is only one aspect of the program.”
But the Blythes feel their son was unfairly discriminated against. They’ve filed a lawsuit against both the state and national organizations for damages greater than $1 for “outrageous and reckless conduct and disregard of the emotional well-being of Logan,” Yahoo reported.
Chad Blythe told the news outlet he wants his son’s badges reinstated and an acknowledgement that not every child has the same capabilities.
Photo credit: George Frey/Getty Images
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